US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was on Sunday admitted to a critical care ward with a bladder issue after he transferred his duties to his deputy, as he battles prostate cancer, the Pentagon said.
US Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks “assumed the functions and duties” just before 5pm, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement, adding that the White House and Congress had been informed.
Austin was “admitted into the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for supportive care and close monitoring,” the Pentagon said in a later statement, citing his doctors.
The latest health scare came weeks after it emerged that Austin, 70, had kept previous hospital stays secret and had not immediately informed US President Joe Biden of his cancer diagnosis, sparking criticism as the US faces crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.
Austin effectively vanished from the public eye for treatment for prostate cancer in December and again last month after suffering complications from the procedure.
This time, the public was alerted about two hours after he was sent to the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
Austin “was transported by his security detail” to the hospital, Ryder said in the earlier statement.
Ryder said initially that the defense chief brought along classified communications systems and would be retaining “the functions and duties of his office.”
However, the announcement that Hicks would instead be taking over came just a few hours later.
“At this time, it is not clear how long Secretary Austin will remain hospitalized,” said the latest statement, attributed to doctors John Maddox and Gregory Chesnut of the medical center in Maryland.
“The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery. His cancer prognosis remains excellent,” it said.
Austin apologized this month after coming under heavy political fire for keeping the previous hospital stays secret.
“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis,” he told journalists on Feb. 1.
At the time, he said he was still in recovery, suffering from leg pain and using a golf cart for transportation inside the Pentagon.
Various Republican lawmakers previously called for Austin to be sacked, but Biden, while lamenting the Pentagon chief’s lapse in judgement, has said he remains confident in his defense secretary.
Austin has gained a reputation as a largely apolitical public servant who is most comfortable with US troops. A commanding presence who is more than 183cm tall, he is an intensely private person who eschews the spotlight, which he said played into his decision to keep the cancer diagnosis secret.
However, he acknowledged that “taking this kind of job means losing some of the privacy that most of us expect. The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health challenges that might affect their ability to perform their duties, even temporarily.”
‘A DISASTER’: A successful Chinese attack on Taiwan would undermine the credibility of US security guarantees and could result in a global depression, three experts wrote A Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be a geopolitical catastrophe for the US and its allies, one that would overshadow almost all others over the next decade, US policy experts said. Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy in the US Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute; Gabriel Collins, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; and former US deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger issued the warning in an article published on Friday in Foreign Affairs. Bejing’s invasion or annexation of Taiwan “would be a disaster of utmost importance to the United States, and I am convinced that
Taiwanese businesspeople’s investments in China last year hit a record low of 11.4 percent of total foreign investment, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday. The number was a huge decline from 83.8 percent in 2010, mainly because Taiwanese businesspeople have been diversifying their investments globally over the past few years, with great success, the council said. From 1991 to last year, 45,523 Taiwanese investments in China totaling US$206.37 billion had been approved, accounting for 50.7 percent of overall foreign investment, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission showed. The amount and proportion of Taiwanese investments in China has been declining, with
Taiwanese tourists on board a Kinmen cruise ship had a scare yesterday when it was intercepted by Chinese coast guards who forcefully boarded the vessel to inspect it. The Sunrise, a tourism ferry that operates between Kinmen and Xiamen, China, was sailing around the waters around the islets of Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — both of which are part of Kinmen County — yesterday afternoon when it encountered personnel from China’s Fujian Coast Guard Bureau. China Coast Guard personnel forced their way on board and conducted an inspection for about 30 minutes before leaving, local media cited the tourists as saying. The
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China